Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Review: "Beyond the Shadows" by Brent Weeks

I honestly can’t say why it took me so long to get to “Beyond the Shadows” ($7.99, Orbit), the final book in Brent Weeks’ Night Angel Trilogy. I loved the first volume and really liked the second, but for some reason I spaced them out about a year or so apart.

As we begin the third book, Kylar Stern has made the transition from a brutally effective wetboy to the Night Angel, a being with the ability to see sins and mete out justice, after a fashion, of course. That doesn’t mean he’s happy about it, though. Logan Gyre, rightful king of Cenaria, is still serving under Terah Graesin, a queen that serves only herself. After emerging from the brief, but brutal reign of Godking Garoth Ursuul, Cenaria is threatened by two new armies.

Meanwhile, Vi, a former wetboy who bonded Kylar against his will through an ancient wedding ritual, has been drawn to the Chantry to learn to use her magical talents in hopes of breaking the bond. While there, she’ll have to face Kylar’s intended, Elene.

Ursuul’s exiled son, the prophet Dorian, has also returned to his homeland to rescue a woman that he’s seen in his visions as his wife. He’ll get more than he bargained for.

It’s difficult to write a coherent synopsis of “Beyond the Shadows,” and that’s one of the reasons the book has left me slightly disappointed. Events set in motion during the first two tales are moving forward all over Weeks’ world, and drawing all of the threads of his story together. That’s good. The problem is that the book seems rushed, almost like Weeks is determined to wrap everything up, no matter what. The result is, in many cases, a somewhat disjointed story that drags readers along by the throat rather than taking them along on the journey.

I had some trouble making an emotional connection to what was going on in “Beyond the Shadows.” Part of that, I guess, was because, as awesome a character as the Night Angel is, it’s a little tougher to identify with him than the street rat Azoth that we started off with. More than that, though, I think it was the events flying by at breakneck speed and the fact that some things seemed to get almost a Cliff’s Notes treatment.

Overall, I still think Weeks’ Night Angel Trilogy is a good one, and I’d still recommend it. I just wish the last volume had lived up to the first two.

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